Owen Nolan signs with the Coyotes today and I'm glad. No, not because I have an opinion on how he'll do, but because it'll finally stop all of the "Owen Nolan comes back" chatter that I hear from people clinging on to the past. And was the past really that good? Let's explore:
Courtesy of HockeyDB.com, stats are in Games Played, Goals, Assists, Points
|1996-97||San Jose Sharks||NHL||72||31||32||63|
|1997-98||San Jose Sharks||NHL||75||14||27||41|
|1998-99||San Jose Sharks||NHL||78||19||26||45|
|1999-00||San Jose Sharks||NHL||78||44||40||84|
|2000-01||San Jose Sharks||NHL||57||24||25||49|
|2001-02||San Jose Sharks||NHL||75||23|| 43 ||66|
Note that I didn't include his trade years (95-96 and 03-04). In six full seasons, Nolan only broke 30 goals TWICE and only ONCE met a point-per-game average. In other words, he had the stats of a good player who flashed greatness in 98-99, but never sustained it.
Nolan's role now will be more of a support player and help on the power play. That's fine, but with his stats diminished, his positives start to be negated by his negatives. And his big negative is that his body is fragile and he's a jerk.
Nolan's recovering from knee problems. But don't forget the back and groin problems that have plagued him throughout his career. Sorry, but those aren't problems that just magically go away -- they stay with you for the rest of time. And even though being a jerk is subjective, poll any number of Sharks fans who have encountered him and I guarantee you'll get a majority percentage of people who thought he ranged from "unpleasant" to "jackass". I have a buddy who works for the Sharks and he hated working on anything with Nolan because off his surly attitude.
Now, Drew Remenda says that Owen's a changed man. Maybe so. Maybe he's mellowed out, even humbled by what's happened over the past few years. Good for him. It still doesn't merit him coming back when the Sharks' top two lines are set. Honestly, can you argue with:
Line 1: Joe Thornton/Jonathon Cheechoo/Mark Bell
Line 2: Patrick Marleau/Milan Michalek/Steve Bernier
Even though Michalek and Bernier are still young, chances are they will total at least 55 points. Do you think Nolan will get that? Maybe, maybe not, but I'd rather gamble on the young, healthy guys then the broken veteran with an inconsistent track record.
The argument against is that he only signed for $1.25 million and the Sharks could have afforded. That's true, and technically, he could have squeezed in on the 3rd line and moved up and down depending on if a line need some mixing up. But I see it as not worth the trouble. All you hear is that the Sharks have great locker room chemistry. Why spoil that with someone who 1) may not be able to produce and 2) has a reputation for being moody and a jerk?
People will argue that Teemu Selanne had a resurgance year. Yeah, but now EVERYBODY claims that they will be the next Teemu Selanne. If it was that easy to bounce back, we'd be marvelling at performances like that every season. And, let's face it, Selanne has more pure talent than Nolan does. Just look at his stats -- even on his bad years, minus one season in Colorado, Selanne was still in the upper 20s in goals, and how many times did he break 40 goals?
Nolan will probably play 50-60 games and put in about 35-40 points. For the distractions and headaches, it just ain't worth it to me.
By the way, if Phoenix wanted to generate new revenue, they could force Wayne Gretzky, Jeremy Roenick, and Owen Nolan to live in ahouse together and sell the TV rights. It'd go something like this:
JR: (singing and dancing) Celebrate good times, come on!
Owen: Shut the f*** up, you stupid a*******!!!
JR: Come on Owen, it's always time for disco dancing!
Owen: I hate you! (runs over and punches JR)
Wayne: (vein bulging out of his forehead) OWEN!!! JR!!! I BLAME THE REFS!!!!
(oh, and the movie quote was from the Timothy Dalton James Bond movie License To Kill.)